Comments: Week of March 4, 2013

1. The cover of Amy Larocca’s “Spring Fashion” issue featured Elle Fanning, dressed in cake and candy by artist Will Cotton, for a photographic portfolio, paying tribute to the season’s fashions, inside the magazine (The Sweetest Thing,” February 18–25). At Fashionista, Cheryl Wischhover called Fanning “one of the coolest teenagers on the planet.” And at NewNowNext, Julia Pugachevsky was just as breathless: “Elle Fanning proves she is the most stylish 14-year-old ever in this New York Magazine spread,” she wrote. “As if she hadn’t already won our hearts, the Cut reports that the 14-year-old sent Cotton a handwritten note at the end of the shoot thanking the artist for ‘a sweet weekend,’ with the all-too-true sign-off: ‘Desserts conquer all,’ ” wrote Hilary George-Parkin at Styleite. “Now excuse us while we go track down some macarons.”

2. “An astrologer whose word is gospelin certain high society, fashion-y circles,Susan Miller is a disorienting mix ofsavvy businesswoman and wacky pundit,”wrote Mallika Rao at the Huffington Postof Molly Young’s profile of the fashionworld’s favorite fortune teller (SusanMiller Rising,” February 18–25). “Youngpaints a picture of a modern breed ofsoothsayer who therefore deserves our attentionmore than the rest, a reasonableperson with a successful website (the ‘catastrophicallyugly’ traffic magnet AstrologyZone), a tawny Upper East Side apartment,and a vocabulary that doesn’tinclude the word ‘aura.’ Then there’s thecharacter lurking in the background. Let’scall her Kooky Sue … It’s a credit toYoung’s profile that it has the effect ofmaking this character seem like the secondaryfigure in a story about a successfulNYU graduate with a bachelor’s in business,on her way to establishing a one-womanempire in an unusual field ofchoice. But we know which Susan Millerwe prefer.” Wrote another: “Fashion andAstrology. Makes perfect sense that twosham professions go hand in hand.”

3. “We may not actually know muchabout Beyoncé, but there is a modelof perfection we would like to see in her,and the fact that she can sustain that imagesuggests she has it really, really, rigorouslytogether,” Nitsuh Abebe wrote in anessay on pop’s Queen B, just ahead of herhalf-confessional,half-grandiose selfdirectedHBO documentary, Life Is But aDream, (Why Can’t Beyoncé Have ItAll?” February 18–25). “There’s justnothing authentic about her at all!!!!”wrote one reader who found Beyoncé anespecially plastic pop star. “What I adoreabout Beyoncé is that she refuses to hidebehind some kind of X-factor charisma,”wrote another. “She’s one of the only celebritiesI can think of who took the timeto earn the ‘role model’ title, and she’sdone it in a way that’s radical as hell, radicalenough to say ‘Anyone can do what Idid. Get moving.’ ” Other readers, too,found the picture of naked ambition refreshing.“As a reluctant millennial, I’mgetting increasingly uncomfortable withthe Girls-think-piece-publishingset tellingme I’m supposed to be having a miserabletime figuring out what it means tobe a young woman these days. For meand for so many of my generation, wewere trained to be unrelenting in our visionof a self-defined success and committedto the work it takes to get there.We’re a lot more Beyoncé (and LenaDunham, while we’re at it) than HannahHorvath. Okay, we watch a lot of TV, butwe also get shit done.”

4. “It cannot serve society’s purpose tomake a felon and an inmate out of sogifted and well-meaning a person as AaronSwartz, and thus he was a victim of agrave injustice,” Wesley Yang wrote in anobituary for the 26-year-old programmer,hacker, and activist, who committedsuicide in January (while facing prosecutionfor hacking academic-article databasejstor), “but it bears rememberingthat the greater injustice was done toAaron Swartz by the man who killed him”(The Life and Afterlife of AaronSwartz,” February 18–25). “Wesley Yangwrote about Aaron with sensitivity, complexity,and pathos,” wrote Swartz’s exgirlfriendQuinn Norton. “But then, Ibelieve, he built the wrong image. Hebuilt an easier image than belonged there… To put this on Aaron is to say he wastoo weak, too fragile for our society. Heshould have been stronger, it’s what societyrequires. But Aaron would have(rightly) pointed out how meager andmean such a society is, how it’s the jobof everyone to demand a better society.”One reader answered on our website:“And this is exactly why Quinn Nortonwas such a terrible ‘girlfriend’ for Aaron(if you can call someone thirteen yearsolder who seduced a naïve boy while shewas still married a ‘girlfriend’) and whyTaren Stinebrickner-Kauffman had beensuch a terrific partner for him these pasttwo years.”

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Comments: Week of March 4, 2013